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Digital Lifestyle 141

Gingerman writes "The BBC is running a story about a full automated lifestyle centre in Wokingham UK. The centre has everything from the home to the office and includes shops too." It's a little thin on details, but its a mix of practical things that could be around the corner, and stuff that may be a little further down a 6 lane interstate.
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Digital Lifestyle

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  • Not this world... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Howie ( 4244 ) <{howie} {at} {}> on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:09PM (#2919965) Homepage Journal
    Too bad that a big assumption of the project is that providers of information on the web want to provide it in a format that is useful to an automated agent, when in reality they seem to do all they can to stop you making useful tools like these automated agents. Despite the development of things like XML, JINI and WSDL - all technologies designed to minimise the amount of customisation needed between strangers - the people who have this type of info aren't exactly jumping on those technologies.
    • Umm.. s/WSDL/UDDI/

      [what is a 'formkeys' anyway?]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So I had a girlfriend for all of 9 months. She dropped by one afternoon when I was sick with a pan of brownies and a video tape with the simpsons on it (my favorite show). so I start eating the brownies and turn on the tape. midway through it, it cuts to her sucking off some dude. He comes in her mouth, she looks at the camera, and says "you're dumped. enjoy the brownies" and spits the mouthful of cum into a bowl of brownie dough.
    • by Snodgrass ( 446409 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:47PM (#2920200) Homepage
      You're exactly right, and (for some reason) I was thinking about this very thing the other day.

      It seems to me the solution would be to make it worth it to the providers of that information. It's all about money, and providers don't play nice with automated agents because they take without giving back (clicking ads, etc.).

      I mean, maybe it could be setup in a way that you can pay a small subscription for certain services. Of course, it would have to be really convenient/neato for me to pay for something that I can get for free, but it's possible.

      As an example: I can jump on for free and see what the forecast is for the next couple of days, but I might pay $5 a month to be able to say "computer: what's the weather look like for this week" and get a detailed response spoken back to me. (that ranks pretty high on the neato scale :) )

      When it comes to convenience, it seems we as a society spare no expense. That seems to me to be the only way that this would ever really work.
      • Sprint is already doing something like this. For an additional $5/mo or so, you can have voice dialing on your cellular phone.
      • Try smarterchild on AIM. You can ask it the weather and it'll respond. Type "weather, berkeley, ca" and it'll give you everything you'd want to know without the bother of going to a web page. It'll also do eliza style chatting and other games.
    • That exact thought went through my mind. MARTA, Atlanta's rail/bus system publishes schedules of the routes and whatnot on the web, but they're all in pdf format. Full of nice little graphics that would be totally irrelevant and downright confusing to a program trying to parse it. You gonna handcraft the algorithm for every city's transit system? Same thing applies to weather, airports, stores' opening and closing times, etc. They'd all have to standardize a way of presenting info to computers.

      There's also the problem of trying to add a new gadget to your home. There is currently almost no continuity between the command systems used for home appliances. Virtually none of them, electronic or otherwise, are designed to be remotely controlled by other equipment. Possibly in 10 years your new toaster oven will come with drivers for integrating it into your home computer, but till then...

  • by nixadmin ( 553533 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:09PM (#2919968)
    Any digital lifestyle assistant that woke me up early for ANY reason would find itself in little peices on the floor. Better: "I know you had a rough one last night, so I called your boss and convinced him to give you a Work From Home day. Go back to sleep."
  • by somethingwicked ( 260651 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:10PM (#2919977)
    This thing offers a simulated lifestyle?

    /.ers will scurry from it like programmers from soap...*grin*

    Now, if they invent a device that washes your clothes when they are thrown on the floor and you can buy it for 50plat EQ currency, then they will have a geekhit on their hands...

  • HAL? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "I'm waking you 30 minutes early because heavy rain has developed, delaying traffic to the airport. I changed your shuttle reservation to 5.30. Here's the light rock you requested."

    ...and no. I will not open the pod bay doors.
  • Remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chagatai ( 524580 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:11PM (#2919987) Homepage
    This reminds me of all of the old Disney shows where they would show "The World of The Future!" where people would have pop-up refrigerators and TVs from their kitchen counters. Except this time it's being done by HP, and it looks like there is a 100% drop in the number of jetpacks and spaceships to Mars.

    • Re:Remember... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Howie ( 4244 )
      Nothing has changed much - Those old shows were done by the industrial giants of that time: GE, GM (Futurama at the 1939 Worlds Fair - the source of the six-lane highway gag), Westinghouse...

      For example, MS have their little (and rather underwhelming) showcase in SFO at the Metreon.
  • These people spent 7,000,000 lbs sterling to build some sort of a Disney world-of-the-future demo. I'm just glad it wasn't my money.
  • The UK has such a high cost of living (in part due to the socialistic policies of Tony Blair) with a DSL connection costing $70/month (single user) its hard to see how the UK can compete with other high tech countries such as Singapore.
    • I'm paying £25/month($35) for a cable connection, so its not all that bad as long as you avoid BT.
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by strags ( 209606 )
      I suspect I'm just feeding a troll here, but...

      The only reason British DSL costs so much, and is so late to be deployed is because of an antiquated, complacent, mismanaged, monopolistic telephone company - British Telecom. They held back DSL deployment because they didn't want ISDN sales to suffer, and even now, are doing everything possible to hinder providers' access to the local loop.

      The chairman of BT once claimed that the public just weren't ready for DSL yet.
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by EnglishTim ( 9662 )
      "the socialistic policies of Tony Blair"

      Riiiight... I don't think that 'Socialist' and 'Labour party' really belong in the same sentence any more. It used to be simple:

      Labour: Left-wing
      Liberal Democrat/ SDLP/ whatever : Centre
      Conservatives: Right-wing

      Now you've got:

      Liberal Democrats: Centre-Left
      Labour: Centre-right
      Conservatives: Slightly more right than Labour.

      Mind you, the centre has moved to the right a bit, anyway.
  • by JPRelph ( 519032 ) <> on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:14PM (#2920008) Homepage
    The tone of the article just reminds me so much of those 1950's visions of future houses that would be fully automated and have robots to clean the dishes and wash the cats. There's just about one thing articles like this are good for, and thats for cheap laughs in about 50 years time.
    • Yeah, but imagine a Beowulf cluster of these(!)
    • It may not be robotic per se, but they do have automated pet washers. Can't seem to find a link...

      Anyway, it's like a miniature car wash with doors. You stick the pet in and it soaks and soaps and all the goodies. Cats, I'm told, really freak out in it, but calm down once they're thoroughly soaked.

      Aha! Found it. On Wired [], of all places. Hmm, "The Lavakan is not intended for homes but is designed for use at professional grooming shops. It costs about $20,000 or can be leased for about $500 a month.". Oh well.

  • Cisco (well of course msft has to have the hand in it too) and a few other companies have been workin on the "smart home" somethin kind of the likes of this just on a residential scale where everything is centraly controlled and networked. Which is just fine and dandy with me i like to think that when i make my chunk o change (by learning what not to do by the dotcommers) i'll be able to control my a/c, preheat the oven, start my car, etc. etc. all with those useless shopping buttons on my keyboard... **grin**
  • Inside the centre, one of the objects on display is a mirror in a baroque gilt frame which dissolves into a to do list and urgent video e-mails.

    How about one that morphs your reflection to say "You Da Man!" everytime you walk by?

    Seriously, though, is this sort of "Home Of The Future" really newsworthy any more? It smells of desperate PR trolling by HP. I mean, really:
    HP is confident that some of these technologies will be available in the next year or two.
    "You could see a time when a screen the size of a laptop computer screen could be embedded into the breakfast bar of your kitchen," said Mr Burwood.

    "And on a Saturday afternoon, all it does is monitor the football results for you."

    And this can't be done now, because...

    I'm reminded of an old Danny Dunn book where he and his pals get stuck in one of these Homes o' the Future because its security system crashes and they get out only because one of the kids overrides the system by, I kid you not, speaking in ultrasonic frequencies.

  • Is it just me or about every five years or so (starting in about 1950). We get this rash of articles showing all these great Automated, effort saving buzzword enabled business/home.
    But food from the vending machine still sucks.
    Coffee makers get better every year but Starbucks still have Baristas
    The point is very little of this tech will hit mainstream in the next five years (if ever) increases in technology will be evolutionary and done one piece at a time, not revolutionary and all encompassing.
    Or maybe I just need my morning coffee
  • Uh oh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by NiftyNews ( 537829 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:15PM (#2920019) Homepage
    Can you imagine if your lifestyle agent got a virus?

    Suddenly you come home and find 8000 pieces of French Toast on the floor (all cut neatly into quadrangles), your cat has been painted green and yellow, and you are now the proud owner of every pay-per-view movie every listed!

    No thanks, I'll just check the weather online instead.
    • That's exactly why I felt uneasy after reading the article. Do we really need to become dependent on yet another machine? Especially one that would affect most functions of daily life.

      I say "No thanks".
    • It is, of course, possible to engineer these systems to be virus-proof, mainly at the cost of letting things outside the system (like, say, the developers' update app or, more importantly, anyone who sends you an email or who has a portscanner) run just anything on the system. But will the developers' managers allow rejection of this convenience, or will they succumb to short-sighted featuritis instead of developing a product that customers won't be returning en masse in a year or two (long enough for the easiest security exploits to be reduced to scripts for kiddies)?
    • Please open the shower doors Haily.
      I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
  • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <> on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:15PM (#2920024) Homepage Journal
    There are times when I want nothing more than to get away from anything computer related. I enjoy fly fishing for example. Just a rod,reel, and hopefully, some fish. I work on computers all damned day, and when I go home, the LAST thing I want is to have to interact with yet another computer. The tech is really cool, and I like the idea of seperating each into areas, work, home, etc...but what happens if you want to get away from it all? If this is their vision of the future, (and what else can it be?) then I hope they allow for those of us that don't *WANT* to be tied into the system all the time. Ok, now mod at your discretion.
    • "Get away from computers?" What do you mean?

    • At my last job I had to deal with a standard MCSE windows admin (ever notice how invariably people that actually admit to having an MCSE are horrible admins? for another time...) who did not own a computer at his home dispite making near $100,000. I was astounded at 1am when I called him due to server outage, and he had no machine to check on anything. Furthermore his memory wasn't good enough to point me through the problem (I was phone monkey at the time).

      When I asked why he didn't have a machine, he replied: "I work with the accursed things all day, why would I want to deal with them when I'm home?"

      Now that I'm an admin, with my 5 machines at home (though only 1 windows machine despite being a win2k admin) I still have no clue what he meant. After all, why would you spend 40+ hours a week, and 24/7 on call dealing with something you couldn't thoroughly enjoy?
      • why would you spend 40+ hours a week, and 24/7 on call dealing with something you couldn't thoroughly enjoy?

        That's how I used to see it too - as being paid to do what I enjoy. These days I do try and not be doing the same things for work and play. Not necessarily non-computer things, just not the same type of work that work is. Work is web apps and net stuff, home is DC games and DirectX. Otherwise you never feel like you've really left work.
        • True true, though work is usually doing user addition, solving stupid user tricks, and fighting against esoteric hardware. These things don't really exist at home where it's games and coding and machine building.

          Though ideally I want it to be that going to work is like never leaving home, rather than home being like I never left work.
      • Actually, our sysadmin is the same way. He lives on a boat and owns no computer of his own. But if I had to deal with a network like ours day in & day out (a mix of ancient and new servers, SPs, NT 4.0 and Apache and who knows what all else), I might feel the same.

        I personally wouldn't mind coming home to a semi-wired home, as long as I could control the guts of it. I spend plenty of time on my Mac at home these days; it's like unwinding from having used Windows all day.
    • The tech is really cool, and I like the idea of seperating each into areas, work, home, etc...but what happens if you want to get away from it all?

      I guess it'll become so normal that for the most part you won't think about it as much. Think about other modern inventions that we use all the time-- telephones, cars, radios, etc. I think computerized devices will ease in with all this stuff.

      What can we do to get away from all this stuff now? Camping! As long as there's camping in the future, I'll be able to handle it.

    • Heh heh... yeah, I know the feeling. I've said I enjoy hiking because it allows my eyes to focus on things more than 24" in front of my face.

      But can you imagine? You're gone a weekend, and your home automation software is now in a tizzy.

      system: And where have you been all weekend?
      me: Um... out.
      system: You could have called to say you weren't coming home.
      me: Oh, yeah.
      system: [pouting] Fine, if that's the way you want it.
      me: Want what?
      system: Shakes head. Really, you never listen.
      me: Huh? What did I do?

      The day we add female personalities to our computers is the day we'll stop understanding them.

  • how connected people really want to be. It's one thing for Joe Suit to want access to his email anywhere he goes. It's another thing for Bluecollar Bob. All he may use email for is notes to mom, and may never have a demand for access elsewhere beyond home.

    Also, there are internet terminals at our mall and if I'm there with my wife and make any indication that I want to check anything, I get "The Look."

  • Me: Sorry boss, I missed the meeting because it was pissing down with rain so there was lots of traffic and I missed my flight.

    PHB: Don't worry, we're getting all our staff one of those automatic alarming-woman thing's so you won't miss it next time.

    Me: D'oh!
  • by Dan Crash ( 22904 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:18PM (#2920045) Journal
    It's five o'clock in the morning. The alarm beeps to life and a soft female voice with an American accent comes over the speakers:

    "I'm waking you 30 minutes early so you can change into your grey suit before the Copyright Police arrive to detain you. I've alerted them to the unauthorized copies of several Universal film properties I detected on your portable drive after you docked it last night, as required by the Intellectual Property Theft Act of 2009. Would you like me to play you some light rock as you get dressed? Current prices are $4.99 per half hour."
    • "Would you like me to play you some light rock as you get dressed? Current prices are $4.99 per half hour."

      This reflects my first thoughts upon reading this article -- how much will the subscription fees for all these services cost? Surely no one is going to sell you any commodity... no, everything will be licensed in a manner that wraps you up quite tidily so you have no rights whatsoever despite the fact that you pay more for the content than you do for the hardware it renders on.

      Let's read the story again and estimate as we go how much this will cost the typical CoolTown inhabitant each and every month in the not-too-far-distant future:

      • $2.95 - Time server subscription
      • $15.00 - 'Lolita' voice personality license
      • $4.95 - Traffic conditions subscription
      • $56.14 - Typical cost of "Lite Rock" at $4.99/30min using 30 min/day on weekdays
      • $40.00 - Shuttle pass with Realtime Bus Locator and ETA service
      • $69.99 - Residential broadband internet access and 3 realtime video email accounts
      • $30.00 - FCC fee for residential wireless network spectrum allocation
      • $19.95 - Wireless telephone service
      • $3.95 - Personal consumer preference profile registration
      • $6.75 - Access fees for personal consumer preference profile (3/wk at $0.50 each)
      • $4.16 - Monthly cost of season subscription to NFL scores and highlights

        And since "the first CoolTown centre was set up in California," let's put our hypothetical uberwired citizen there

      • $1.25 - CA internet operator's license fee, Class A ($15/yr)
      • $5.00 - CA Radiated Electromagnetic Energy Pollution Mitigation fee for ultrawideband residential wireless network
      • $15.00 - LA County Tarriff for subscription to interstate entertainment services
      • $75.00 - Mandatory Libel and Flame insurance

        Total average monthly cost: $350.09

      This is the reason that I don't have a cellphone, pager, wireless email terminal, personal video recorder, or other newfangled doodad. Hell, I don't even have cable. (Officially, that is.) All those little subscription fees add up, and before you know it, you're paying more for your "digital lifestyle" than you are for rent on your flat. And as service providers and content providers realize how digital rights management can wring more and more licensing fees out of the consumer, the situation is only going to get worse.
  • I am happy to see a project such as this come to life for the public to see. Even if some of the technology seems a bit far off, or even usless today, it is usefull for all of us to see new and inventive ways to use technology. After all todays bad idea could be tomorrows Microsoft.
  • Wake up in the morning at 4am by the voice...

    "Hey Doodz Youz been ownd by Leet Haxor"

    Then my refridgator would be like

    "Yo Fatty come get some cause I got your milk and cookies right here"

    The idea of this would be great but I wish the article could have gone more into depth. For the above would not make me look forward to the future.
  • My brother was on the board of directors of a medium-sized home automation company (no, not the annoying one []), and they considered creating and subsidizing an operation like this to showcase all of their cutting-edge products. They did their market research back in 1998, when there were countless dot-com nouveau millionaires who were looking for cool new ways to blow a wad of cash on their pathetic selves, and found strong demand for their project. In fact, the late 90s made the company extremely wealthy and many of their staffers took an early retirement.

    Fast forward to 2002. The company has scaled back their operations considerably. New market research data shows that there is almost nobody who would want to pay to live in a fully automated apartment. Hopeless [] companies [] no longer have stock valuations based more in ignorance than in profit potential. The Era of High Tech Toys has passed us by. I'm not sure what HP, "home of the earnings warning []," is thinking, but something tells me that their cool new automated homes are not going to pave the way back to profitability.


  • Underlying all the elements of CoolTown is the potential of the internet to affect people's lives.

    I'm not so sure that this is a good thing. Although I'm for devices (soda machines, information kiosks, etc) interconnecting with other devices (PDA's, laptops, etc), I really don't think the internet as it stands now is a good "hub" as the article would suggest.

  • by bahtama ( 252146 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:29PM (#2920103) Homepage
    Well, you know that they obviously have a webpage about it: []

    Here is the open source codebase for some of it. []

  • HP has a website about the technology behind these devices and of all things it sounds like at least some of it is open source. Check it out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For instance, my two year Mac G4 running OS X...

    * Comes with built-in speech recognition and a large bundle of applescripts to automate a large number of tasks via voice commands. Plus, it is fully applescriptable (of course).

    * Comes with built-in Macintalk, and will read out aloud any text in a number of voices, and even in Spanish, if you select one of the Spanish voices. My favorite is Victoria, who actually has a pretty seductive voice.

    * Runs IBM's ViaVoice for OS X for dictation/word processing

    * Has a $40 Digital Media Remote for OS X from Keyspan that can control any application from across the room via out-of-the box mappings and is fully extendable via Applescript

    * Features industry-standard DVI connectors for hooking up to monitors such as the 50" NEC 50MP3

    * Features 2 FireWire ports for hooking up to the newest audio receivers/amplifiers out there
  • by Gathius ( 554985 )
    I'm reminded by these posts of the Simpsons Halloween episode where they get the automated house... seriously though, isn't there a point where some of this technology simply just isn't needed? It seems to me like some of this stuff is just inventing for the sake of having toys, not inventing in order to meet some necesity. Take the self-setting alarm clock, for instance... I'll take my alarm clock with an extra large snooze button any day over a machine that wakes me up (even) earlier than I have to.
  • A few points... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Unfallen ( 114859 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @01:35PM (#2920134) Homepage
    For starters...

    Quote: "I'm waking you 30 minutes early"

    Anything that does that is clearly the Spawn of Satan's Spawn.

    "The important thing with this is that the web becomes the hub," explains Mr Burwood. well as other web-centric ideals. Is this it then? The all-encompassing "Internet" has finally been superceded by the ever-evolving, designed-for-hypertext "web". Or I could just be too pedantic.

    What distresses me more is the banality which this vision of the future holds. "And on a Saturday afternoon, all it does is monitor the football results for you." Oh woohoo and other saracasm. Sure, there's plenty of talk here about how IT can make everything "easier" (and I'll believe it when I can put my hands through its sides), yet nothing about how we can reach out and achieve new experiences, interact with people and ideas that we never thought we'd even dream about...

    "Underlying all the elements of CoolTown is the potential of the internet to affect people's lives."

    Time to fulfil the potential, not mould it into the pap of society that seems to extrude from every firewalled port at the moment.

  • Yawn!! (Score:1, Interesting)

    We see one of these things every few years, and only a fraction of the tech makes it into reality. Cooltown doesn't even seem to have any thing new in it, just the same old ideas rehassed over again. Hometime [] used to build a house of tomarrow every couple of years on their show. It would be much more interesting if someone built a modle home that had actual, realistic, tech built into it. Not a house that would warm the gararge 30 min before you got home (Billy Boys), but something that was helpful like an intigrated network for voice/data/whatever, smart lighting that turned on when you entered the room (and saves energy by turning itself off), that sort of stuff. Build a house that is technologicaly advanced and doesn't cost $1mil.
  • This is all very cool stuff (for those of us who could benefit from this kind of technology). I am really looking forward to this kind of thing. I know I spend way too much time doing things that could be [more] automated or completely eliminated. But there are two barriers that will keep it from happening in the near future.

    In order for this kind of lifestyle to be possible, many large (and small) companies across a wide variety of industries must adopt and integrate the technology to make this happen. Adoption of new technologies is slow enough by itself. How many of us work in companies where Win98 and NT4 are the default desktop OS's, despite the availability of new, better versions? And this is a technology that's well understood and relatively painless to upgrade. (Yes, I said relatively painless, not without pain.)

    Integration between two or more companies takes much longer than adoption within a single organization. Remember the B2B craze? After all the fallout, there's not much of it left.

    Companies exist to make money, not adopt and implement new technologies. New means risky, unproven, and that risk makes executives and shareholders nervous. And some of the things involved in creating this "digital lifestyle" are a hard sell, from a profitability standpoint. How do you convince the board or executive team that it makes good business sense to invest in developing a service that lets people know when their bus is going to arrive at the bus stop? So they change at a slow pace to reduce the perceived risk.

    This is some amazing work, frankly I'm surprised at how much can be done just with today's technology! I'm really looking forward to the time when it can make a significant difference in the quality of my life.

  • So is this the one step up option for the Scott Adams ultimate Cubicle []? Everything you need for your mutant cross between the Uber coach potato and Uber Gamer.

    I really don't see a need for this, and can't help thinking of the old scifi story about the day "the machine died".

  • If so when you get the usual connectivity problems you'll get:

    You are in for a crappy day, as I have not been able to get on line for 4 hours so have no idea what your schedule is, could not order your braekfast and could not re arrange your flights as requested...have a nice day.
  • Wokingham is only 20 miles from or so from Basingstoke where the now infamous Cloud 9 ISP was (is?) based

    <Columbo>So I got to thinking...</Columbo>

    The so called DDOS attack was in actual fact the side-effects of 120 CoolTown refridgerators and 45 toasters downloading stock quotes. Case closed
  • In a way this type of technology is already being used. My TIVO is searching the cable listings trying to find shows, actors, and directors that I like.

    One tip: never give a thumbs up to an (ahem) adult show...the moment TIVO records something like that on it's own is the moment you are in the dog house with the wife/girlfriend.
  • "I'm waking you 30 minutes early because heavy rain has developed, delaying traffic to the airport. I changed your shuttle reservation to 5.30. Here's the light rock you requested."

    ...Oh yeah, wasn't this from an episode of The Prisoner? Man you have to love British Broadcasting

  • i can fill my empty life with useful appliances that will fulfill my every whim and desire...this is exactly what i need to make me a better/happy person!!!


    "the last thing my toaster needs is an IP address"
  • 56,343 dead after yet another Outlook Worm.
  • I've had this to an extent for the past 2 years.

    it's a program called Mister house. LINK []

    connected with off the shelf hardware and a bit of knowlege (it isn't for the cranially challenged) you can have this. The speech synthesis from the festival program is excellent and overall the one dedicated server required to run it is a Pentium 200 with 64 meg of ram and a 2 gig hard drive... nothing special.
  • Any computer that tries to wake me up that early better be prepared to be visited by a very large axe.
  • Maybe I'm weird but,

    I like the idea of life not being so convenient that I get tired of breathing for myself and die. I think as we progress, we are really setting ourselves up for hell when we finally get out there and start colonizing this galaxy. Either that or we'll get so collectively complacent and tamed thanks to the built in electronic convenience, that we'll never bother leaving the planet. Then we'll die slow painful deaths when the solar flare of the Gods or other unplanned disaster renders our technology dead. I think more people need to spend more time walking around trails. Knowing the names of the trees you are looking at. Maybe even (please don't flame me) shooting a firearm of some kind. I try to do these types of things every once in a while so I have at least a passing familiarity with nature.
    • I'm weird too. I like technology. I make my living with it. I post on /. with it. But I don't want to be any more dependent on it than I already am (which is too much). I'd rather have the comfort that, though I'm old & fat, I can still walk up 3 flights of stairs if the elevator is broken. I may not know the names of the trees I walk past, but at least I walk past them.
  • ... a mirror in a baroque gilt frame which dissolves into a to do list and urgent video e-mails.

    It's bad enough looking in the mirror and seeing my own mug, much less a "to-do list" staring back. And what's an "urgent video e-mail?" Urgent to whom? My boss? Spammers? Stalkers?
  • I live in Plano, TX and all the online grocery stores that used to operate in this area have gone the way of the rest of the dotcoms. However, before the downfall, I had started designing a system that would automate my grocery shopping by tracking what I had in stock and based on the rate I consume things. On a weekly basis I would plan my menus so the program knew what was needed and would order whatever wasn't available. Go to [] and click on Inventory to see the current status. Items are entered and removed from the inventory by using a retail barcode scanner.

    Since the online grocery stores are now gone, I can't really get any use of out it and the best I can do now is to print out shopping lists, so I've kinda put the project on the back burner. But had those companies prevailed I believe this setup would have made a nice addition to any home automation system by making shopping an almost transparent process.

  • Really. However, we haven't been able to get the paperless office idea ironed out yet...much less a paperless existance.
  • I too enjoy a digital lifestyle.

    I waking up in the morning to my digital clock radio and reading the time from my digital clock, setting the shower temperature on digital thermostat. Catching the news on my digital tv and checking the time on my digital watch. I speed to work, listerning to my digital radio ignoring the digital my cars speedometer and reading the digital speed warning signs on the road-side. I read the digital display on the lift to get to my floor where I use a digital pass to enter my office, where I read the digital display on the digital coffee machine, before checking my appointment on my digital PDA to use a digital computer and listerning to music om my digital music player, and taking phone calls on my digital mobile.

    And all before lunch.

    I like to thing I'm pretty normal person in the digital age.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller